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LEVY INSTITUTE CONFERENCE TO EXPLORE ECONOMIC MOBILITY Two-Day Conference Will Examine the Forces that Drive Economic Mobility, Their Relationship to Inequality, and Their Policy Implications

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—While policymakers and economists are assessing the prospects for our current, sluggish global economy, some hard lessons about the 1990s boom are becoming clear. But beyond the accounting scandals, bankruptcies, and bubbles lie some equally important and, perhaps, harsher realities, such as the apparent failure of the boom, even at its peak, to substantially reverse the long-term trend of rising income inequality.

On October 18 and 19, the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College will host a conference, Economic Mobility in America and Other Advanced Countries, in which participants will take stock of the knowledge gained about the economic aspects of economic mobility, both in the short term and across generations. They will seek to determine the relationship of these economic aspects to inequality and explore their implications for public policy. Given the extent to which so many quality-of-life issues, from education and health care to home ownership, are tied directly to the distribution of income and wealth, it is critical to understand the forces that drive any disparities in that distribution and how they affect economic mobility.

The conference, organized by Edward N. Wolff, a senior scholar at the Levy Institute and a professor of economics at New York University, will bring together distinguished sociologists and economists as well as government experts. Among the participants are Robert Haveman, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Thomas L. Hungerford, senior economist, Social Security Administration; Lisa A. Keister, Ohio State University; Robert A. Margo, professor of economics, Vanderbilt University; Stephen Machin, professor of economics, University College London; and Heidi Hartman, president, Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In addition to analyzing indicators of economic mobility, such as income, earnings, and consumption, the participants will explore poverty dynamics, labor market mobility, mobility and race, and wealth transfers and living standards.

The conference will be webcast live at


Economic Mobility in America and Other Advanced Countries

Levy Economics Institute, October 18 and 19, 2002

Friday, October 18

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome and Introduction

Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, president, Levy Institute

9:15 – 11:00 a.m. Session 1. Mobility in Economic Well-Being

Chair: Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

Jonathan D. Fisher, research economist, and David S. Johnson, research economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Consumption Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Two Panel Data Sets"

Conchita D’Ambrosio, Università Bocconi and DIW Berlin, and Joachim R. Frick, DIW Berlin, "Germans on the Move? Mobility in Well-Being in the 1990s"

Discussant: Thesia Garner, senior research economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics

11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Session 2. Mobility in the Labor Market

Chair: Edward N. Wolff, senior scholar, Levy Institute and professor of economics, New York University

Robert Haveman and Brian Knight, University of Wisconsin, Madison, "Effects of Labor Market Changes on Young Adult Employment, Labor Market Mobility, Living Arrangements, and Economic Independence: A Cohort Analysis"

Bruno Contini, Laboratorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies, and University of Torino, "Earnings Mobility and Labor Market Segmentation in Europe and the U.S.: Preliminary Explorations"

Discussant: Heidi Hartman, president, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Luncheon

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Session 3. Poverty over the Life Cycle

Chair: Ajit Zacharias, research fellow, Levy Economics Institute

Thomas L. Hungerford, senior economist, Social Security Administration, "The Persistence of Hardship over the Life Course"

Fotis Papadopoulos and Panos Tsakloglou, Athens University of Economics and Business, "Short-Term Poverty Dynamics in Europe: A Comparative Analysis"

Discussant: to be announced

4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Session 4. Intergenerational Income Mobility

Chair: to be announced

Paul A. Johnson, Vassar College, "A Nonparametric Analysis of U.S. Intergenerational Dependence in Income"

Jo Blanden and Stephen Machin, University College London and Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics, "Cross-Country Comparisons of Changes in Intergenerational Mobility"

Discussant: Barbara Wolfe, University of Wisconsin, Madison

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Reception and Dinner

Saturday, October 19

9:15 – 11:00 a.m. Session 5. Wealth Mobility I

Chair: Daphne Greenwood, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Lisa A. Keister, Ohio State University, "Getting Rich in America: The Prevalence and Determinants of Wealth Mobility"

Richard H. Steckel, Ohio State University, and Jayanthi Krishnan, Temple University, "Wealth Mobility in America: A View from the National Longitudinal Survey"

Discussant: Ngina Chiteji, assistant professor of economics, Skidmore College

11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Session 6. Wealth Mobility II

Chair: to be announced

Seymour Spilerman and Florencia Torche, Columbia University, "Wealth Transfers and Living Standards: A Comparison of Chile and Israel"

Jay L. Zagorsky, Ohio State University, "Wealth, Mobility and Race: A Longitudinal Study of U.S. Young Baby Boomers"

Discussant: Robert A. Margo, Vanderbilt University

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Luncheon

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Session 7. Earnings Mobility

Chair: Heather Bouchey, economist, Economic Policy Institute

Steven J. Rose, ORC Macro International, "Earnings Mobility: Determining What Measure to Use"

Jeffrey S. Zax, University of Colorado, Boulder, "Permanent, Transitory, and Life-Cycle Inequality"

Discussant: Jens Christensen, Mount Holyoke College

All sessions will take place at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Advance registration is required. To register for attendance, call 845 758-7700; e-mail; or register online on the Levy Institute’s website:

Press registrations should be made by calling Mark Primoff at (845) 758-7749 or sending e-mail to

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This event was last updated on 09-27-2002